Termite baiting systems should form part of any professional pest manager’s toolbox, advises Charles McClintock of Sumitomo Chemical Australia.
When it comes to protecting structures from termites, your preferred recommendation should be based on the system that delivers the best level of protection for the property. When more than one system can be considered, customer preferences also come into play, but it’s also important to consider which system is best for business.
Conceptually, liquid soil treatments are an easy system for homeowners to visualise – the so-called ‘termite barrier’, even though a ‘treated zone’ is the better description. However, although homeowners and indeed many pest managers like the ‘set and forget’ mindset of a soil treatment (not withstanding the annual inspection), a liquid soil treatment is not the best system for a number of situations.
Soil and environmental conditions can make liquid treatments a poor choice; heavy clay or rocky soils, sloping blocks and areas prone to flooding often mean baiting systems are the preferred option. Construction types and buildings with construction faults that prevent the application of a continuous treated zone integrated with the structural elements again mean baiting systems could be the preferred option.
Such situations are not uncommon. For pest managers to ‘only do liquid treatments’ means they are missing out on business or recommending liquid treatments in situations they shouldn’t! Having a baiting system as part of your offering is a must for true termite professionals.
However, for some termite professionals, baiting is not just a back-up option, but also their preferred termite management system, one they have embraced as a business model.
In pricing a baiting system installation, a pest manager needs to take into account installation costs, quarterly station inspection costs, annual termite inspection and costs for treating any termite activity that occurs.
Installation of baiting systems has become a lot easier with the use of power augers. It is not uncommon for a single technician to be able to install a complete system around a ‘standard’ house in as little as four hours. This should make installation significantly cheaper and quicker than applying a soil chemical treatment. The quarterly costs of inspecting a monitoring system are often used as a reason not to install a baiting system, but these regular inspections have benefits for homeowner and pest manager alike – certainly worth the effort to sell the extra value.
A lot can happen between one annual inspection and the next; homeowner activities (gardening), tradesman, home maintenance issues (leaks and drainage problems), invasive plant roots can all increase the chance of a termite attack. These can be issues even with a treated zone in place and so being on the premises every three months (as you would with a monitoring system) allow such issues to be picked up and remedies made before any damage can occur.
From a pest manager’s point of view, these regular inspections are great opportunities to build your relationship with your customers (after all we are a service industry), and provide the chance to up sell additional services. Importantly, these regular inspections throughout the year allow pest managers to even out the seasonal peaks and troughs and keep income coming in through the quieter winter months.
When the termite activity is detected in the monitoring stations, it provides the opportunity for the pest manager to demonstrate their expertise and it highlights to the homeowner the value of the monitoring system. The real value of a monitoring system is that the subsequent baiting treatment then actually kills the colony, permanently taking care of the problem and reducing the termite pressure on the property. With liquid soil treatments, the termite pressure continues to build.
Of course, it is important to eradicate the termites in a timely manner and with the Xterm baiting system, it is possible to kill large Coptotermes colonies in as little as four weeks1 (Evans, 2010). Not only does this keep the homeowner happy, but also the reduction in visits means a significant saving (and therefore more profit) for pest managers when compared to older style baits.
For those who may be unaware or had forgotten about these significant customer and business benefits of baiting, maybe it’s time to re-visit baiting systems and join those termite professionals ‘in the know’.
Free online training on termite baiting and the Xterm system is available from Sumitomo. Sumitomo Chemical provides online training for termite baiting and how to make the most of the Xterm baiting system for in-ground and aboveground installations. We’ll even give you a free above ground starter pack to get you started.
Charles McClintock, Business Manager, Sumitomo Chemical Australia
1 Evans, T.A. J Econ Entomol 103 (2010): Rapid elimination of field colonies of subterranean termites using bistrifluron bait pellets.